Is this the starter of the future? I don't know that he is, but I also don't know that he isn't. One thing that always works is when the head coach and the QB are similar. Example, Montana and Walsh saw football in much of the same way. Both wanted to innovate how the passing game could be used to slowly pick apart defenses much in the same way that a running game is used to wear them down. Brady and Billicik approach the game very similarly, and Billichik has often referenced how having Brady out there is like having himself in the huddle. Etc, etc, etc. Hill isn't the most talented guy, but neither was Singletary. Both Sing and Hill are classing overachievers who play harder and with more heart than the other 21 guys on the field. I think too much has been made of him "weak" arm, and not enough credit has been given to his athleticism, which surfaces itself when a play breaks down. He may have the worst long ball in the game, but his quick release, vision, ability to improvise, pocket presence, and exceptional command of the short passing game makes him an interesting option. However, it's his ability to sustain LOOOONG drives, that I believe makes him the right person to manage this run (Gore) oriented offense.
Not much to say about this guy. Can probably come in and win .500 in a short season. May be here next year, maybe not.
I apologize to all the Alex supporters, but I'm not a fan. Watching him this pre-season confirms everything I've thought. He has horrific pocket presence, and for some odd reason always escapes from the pocket into a defender. He is just now learning to step up in his throws. He uses his strong arm to his disadvantage--throwing hard to catch bullets to avg receivers (Davis) who need the ball placed between the #s to make the catch--rather than to his advantage--such as completing passes across his body, as he rolls out to the right. He cannot sustain drives, and is the kind of 3-and-outs. Maybe if he had a Payton Manning like deep ball I can overlook some of these things, but the fact is, his deep throws are OK, not mind blowing. He needs to play behind a line that doesn't give up pressures, with receivers that can catch anythign within a 10 yard radius in order to be successful. Much like Mike Martz, this guy simply doesn't have it in him to do more with less.
Perhaps the most interesting QB on the roster--and here is why: Was he drafted to be a backup? Probably not, my guess is that he was drafted because he has a high ceiling. The problem is that he needs at least 2 years until we're able to get an accurate read--sorry, but 6 completions against the Raiders 3rd stringers will not suffice. So what happens if Hill doesn't perform? What do we do with 2 first round picks (at least one of which will be high if Hill fails)? Will we pass on McCoy or Bradford (who I really don't like) because we're waiting for Davis to develop? Or will we spend up to 2 first round picks on a QB, when we just drafted a guy who the coaches think could develop into a legitimate starter? Getting a read on Davis in practices and these next 2 pre season games should be a considerable task for the coaching staff. Overall I think the kid has skills. I like his size, ability to avoid the sack, and ability to throw completions on the run. Now lets see him do this against legitimate competition.
Overall the QBs are a HUGE question mark. I like Hill, but I just can't commit to him as our starter of the future with such a short resume. Davis? Don't be surprised if he, not Hill, is the reason we pass on a QB next April. Huard, is really just insurance, and Alex Smith will not be back with the team unless he's called upon at some point during the season and performs well. That's WELL, not badly with excuses. Not 4.2 passer rating, but an excuse of dropped passes. Not 11 picks but an excuse of a bad line. He needs to perform well to be back, and I just don't see that happening--even if he does get some starts this season.
I think now with the season less than a month away is a good time to take an in-depth look at the roster. I will start with just one position, and add to it with time. I want to start with the offensive line. Talk about what I think of each player, who I think will be here long term, and what I see of the line.
LT: Joe Staley
We are probably set here for the next decade. Joe Staley is young, athletic, decently strong, and most importantly, durable. Coming out of college it was believed that Staley's best football is still ahead of him. I believe that. Last year was a growing curve, and this year I think we can expect very good things from him. Is he a future perennial pro-bowler? Probably not. Will he be in the pro-bowl? He could be, maybe even a few times in his career if all goes his way and he stays healthy. He will not be one of the great LTs in the league, but he will be a very good player for a very long time. What's nice about Staley is he's big enough to be a part of a big power line, and athletic enough to be a part of a quick athletic line. In our system he plays the role of the big guy pushing ahead for the RB.
LG: Cody Wallace? Draft Pick? FA?
David Baas was born to look the part. Big, monstrously strong, and highly regarded coming out of college, Baas also happens to be slow and clumsy. Our line is built on size, but there is also quite a bit of athleticism (Staley, Rachal, even Heitman), Baas is the exception. But above all else, the guy is just injury prone. This line's best chance for success is by finding consistency. Due to this, durability is a requirement for anyone looking to be a long term starter. Baas is not the guy. He may get the start this year, but don't count on his contract being extended. Wragge is a guy I like quite a bit, but its obvious that he's not athletic enough to be counted on as the full-time starter. The team doesn't seem to think so either, and likely see him as a good backup. This leaves us with a hole at LG. Since most of the line will be coming into their primes by this year and next year, it doesn't seem to me that a rookie is the best idea. If there is a polished senior who is ready to come in and play that may change my mind. A FA could make sense as well. However, right now I'm curious about Wallace. We drafted him in the 4th. He'll be a 3rd year vet next year, and he's had experience with this line already. Can he make the jump to starter? This is clearly the weak link.
C: Eric Heitman
People either love him or hate him. I believe he's a good player. He doesn't have the most upside on our team, but as of now may be our best lineman. He's not as young as some of the other guys, but can play for a good few more years. I think our line will gain strength with Heitman as its anchor. Wragge is a strong backup at this position, and may be the eventual heir to the position.
RG: Chilo Rachal
I was really happy with this pick. If not for Chilo, we would have a huge question at both guard spots. Right now Chilo is raw and is prone to mistakes, however he is progressing well, and may one day reach his potential. Just like Staley, Rachal has size and immense athletic ability. If he ever reaches his potential, Rachal can be one of the premier guards in the league, and a Larry Allen - like force in the middle. For now he is still very effective based oh his natural gifts alone.
RT: Adam Snyder
I was hoping Snyder proves that he can handle this spot, and I think he's about to. Probably the least athletic, and the biggest lineman on our team, Snyder can only be fully effective at RT. Even though he can play 4 spots on the line, I believe his best fit is RT. Two years ago I predicted Snyder as our RT of the future. The team tried shoving him at LG because he looked the part, but he never fully adjusted to playing in a box. When he played T we actually got descent production out of him. Now with time to develop, Snyder can become an effective starter. Along with Staley and Rachal, Snyder should be fully maturing in his position by next year.
This line will succeed and fail on consistency. The good news is that we have 4 spots set, with solid to very good players, who have been together for some time, and will be in the prime of their careers at around the same time. The bad news is that there isn't a superstar in the group yet, and for the exception of Chilo, there might not be anyone with superstar potential (all though Staley could be very very good). If the transition of our future LG is made mostly seamlessly, and injuries don't offset the flow of things, I think this line can gel in much the same way the Giant's line did. This is a group built for run blocking, and will be asked to do just that. Bring in the Martz 7-step drop and this line will fail horribly, but ask them to manage a power running offense, and they may just be able to excel.
[ Edited by RollinWith21n52 on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:18 PM ]